New learners are often caught between whether they should learn to play chess online through automated programs or hire a personal coach.
The bright side of using an automated program is that they have the novelty edge and can undoubtedly beat a chess master when it comes to game analysis.
However, they can't replicate the learner's thinking process or explain the nuances of the game effectively.
Computer programs and chess maestros are adept with abstract concepts not easily understood by new or below-par players.
But the individual best suited to teach you chess for beginners doesn't necessarily have to be a chess master; instead, they must simply understand and love the game.
Keep in mind that you won't need to understand complex strategies as a beginner, but get a start at the game and know which piece goes where.
As a rule, new learners should work with teachers who are 150-200 rating points above them. If there's more difference between rating points, the teacher and student will find it hard to communicate.
Learning how to play chess through a computer has several drawbacks, most notably, the lack of communication with the student.
While computers may point out your mistakes, they cannot relay the reasoning and the thinking that precedes a move. If an error is tactical, the computer will not correct you, and you will likely repeat it.
Also, most chess programs cannot assess the optimal move for your pieces all the time. The recommendations are based on pre-set mathematical models, which fail to take strategy into account.
Therefore, if you're looking for an effective chess tutor, these are the qualities you should be looking for in the ideal candidate:
What Qualities To Look For In A Chess Tutor
The right tutor does not spend all their time playing games with you. They will divide the coaching time equally between theoretical strategy and practice sessions.
Playing game after game will only demotivate and frustrate you. While more practice is good, it's not the best way to be spending your time and money during chess lessons.
However, keep in mind that the more experience they have, the more expensive they may be.
Once these prerequisites are met, here are some qualities you should expect with a good tutor:
They should analyze your game and understand their student's strengths and weaknesses. A good chess tutor should cater to their student's needs as everyone has a different game style when it comes to chess.
While analyzing the game and identifying the mistakes, they should provide clear reasoning to the student about where they went wrong.
An experienced tutor will never tell you if your move is wrong; instead, they tell you why it is a bad move, linking it with positional errors, such as giving up the bishop pair.
With the right tutor, you should not find yourself in doubt regarding where you went wrong. Learning chess for beginners is all about developing an understanding of the game.
If all they do is analyze your game but offer no techniques to fix your errors, they are not the right teacher for you.
A qualified chess tutor should not just identify the flaws in your game but have a coherent plan to fill the gaps and improve your strategy.
They should help you come up with a plan on what you should do when they are not around, including:
- Tips for future games
- Having a definite opening
- Knowing how to use certain tactical and positional moves
Ideally, the student and teacher should reach a consensus on a strategy for when the teacher is not there to guide the player.
They should also address the inherent weaknesses in the pupil's game and try to accentuate their strengths.
Coherent Opening Strategy
The tutor must give their student the tools to create their opening strategy. Many tutors make the mistake of teaching their own openings to students without analyzing their tendencies.
The right tutor will help you choose openings that match your style. If you already have a repertoire that you are comfortable with, your tutor should help you select defenses and offenses that match it.
In some cases, the tutor might focus too much on the opening while ignoring other critical parts of the game. These include:
- Defense tactics
If your tutor focuses on every part of the game and does not spend too much time on one strategy, you know you're in good hands.
Remember that having a game plan is very important in chess. Some tutors like to bombard students with many tactical exercises but do not offer a coherent strategy to reach the endgame.
On the other hand, it isn't uncommon for amateurs to think that chess is all about tactics, but tactical moves are straightforward to master if you practice.
The right tutor should consider positional moves and endings and offer a well-rounded training regime to their pupils. If they can include a little bit of chess history in their lessons, that is the cherry on top!
A good chess tutor should also offer extra-curricular study and training resources for their students. Chess is an extensive game, and there are plenty of books your tutors can recommend to you to master your game.
Even the best tutors tend to miss out on some issues, so training resources, such as books and tutorials, can help fill the gap.
Ask your tutors for specialized books, tutorials, and videos to perfect the techniques and stages of the game where you're lacking.
Psychological Approach To Chess Problems
A good chess tutor should also help their students tackle their psychological blocks when playing chess. For this, they need to develop a bond with their students.
Several chess enthusiasts complain of problems with time management despite perfecting their tactical moves and strategy.
Meanwhile, some feel unsure about their opening strategy and endgame or feel intimidated by certain kinds of players.
To identify and address these blocks, the tutor must know the student well enough, as these problems do not tend to spring up during standard chess training but might plague the student during moments of nervousness and stress.
Some chess masters tend to cave into the demands of their students regarding how they wish to train. Hence, this underlines the difference between a chess maestro and a chess teacher.
A maestro might be a pro at the game but may struggle to pass their knowledge to others.
On the other hand, a chess teacher will have the student's success as their priority and seek ways to enhance their pupil's game.
The best teacher will be consistent, patient, and forthcoming about the student's strengths and weaknesses.
Learn Chess With A Qualified Teacher
The teacher you hire should help create a suitable opening repertoire for you, teach you basic endgames, help you improve your tactical and positional moves, and make sure you're well-rounded when it comes to playing chess.
The only way to truly measure their expertise is by taking a couple of sessions with them. Many teachers offer chess lessons online, making it much easier to set your own schedule.
If you're looking for chess lessons for beginners, make a profile at Superprof and gain access to some of the most qualified chess tutors in your area.
The only thing you have to do is visit their profile, schedule a session, and get learning chess right away!